So yesterday Tim was holding Darah (she was facing out) and I was telling some story, just being my usual animated self. At some point during the story, I guess I made a face and stuck my tongue out. Darah let out a huge belly laugh, which made Tim and I both stop dead in our tracks. It was an AWESOME moment that I’ll never forget. I can’t wait for her to do it again!!!
We are back from an absolutely fabulous visit to my in-laws in California. The journey there and back was very long, but our baby behaved beautifully. We had such a great time; it was the first time in 4 years that all of Tim’s siblings were together, and in that time 4 little girls have hit the scene as cousins to each other. You can imagine the fun we had watching them play!
We packed a lot of things for our baby. Some of the things we didn’t really need. However, there were 2 items that I never even considered packing but that I missed greatly. I’m passing this along to you in case you have travel plans with a baby in your future and are compiling a travel with baby checklist.
1. The Boppy. I always knew that the Boppy breastfeeding pillow was a great product, but I thought that I could get by just fine with a pillow for the trip. WRONG! In the past 12 days I have used a thin pillow, a thick pillow, a jacket and my arm muscles alone, each in an effort to create a comfortable nursing environment for Darah. Quite simply, nothing could hold a candle to the Boppy. The pillows came the closest, but she kept sliding off of them, so I had to wrestle with them each time I fed her. When we got home today I got the Boppy out, and it was the most peaceful feeding she has had since before we left.
2. A monitor. My in-laws have really thick walls, which is terrific for keeping a room quiet during nap times. The down side is that it is really difficult to hear a crying baby if you aren’t really close to the door. I found myself making frequent trips to our room to check on her, and a few times I checked on her only to find her sobbing, which means she had been crying for several minutes (I’m not one to let my baby cry; it’s ok if you don’t agree with me, but it’s how I roll). If I had brought the monitor, I could have been more present at meal times, playtime outside or while watching movies.
Since we already had full suitcases and since these items take up a decent amount of space, a good idea might have been to have had my mother-in-law purchase these items used off Craigslist and just keep them at her house. But as I said, it really didn’t occur to me that I would need them. Now I know!
If you recently traveled, did you leave anything behind that you wish you hadn’t? Did you pack something that you never even got out of the suitcase?
When we brought our little peanut home from the hospital, we were struck with the irony of caring for a newborn. In our case, we had a baby who slept the vast majority of the day, and yet, we never had the time to get ANYTHING done. Making meals became a major hassle, and cleaning up afterwards could literally take a few days to accomplish, by which point we had cooked another meal, and so the vicious cycle of having a seriously gross kitchen never ended.
One solution we found was to use disposable dishware. By eliminating the majority of our dirty dishes, we were able to keep our kitchen from getting out of control, and that really did feel like an accomplishment. I would recommend that anyone who is trying to adjust to life with a baby seriously consider getting some disposable products! These products also come in handy for when you have company over for a few days.
I really do feel as though having some disposable dishware is something that parents need, at least at the beginning of their journey and for when they have visitors. However, there is something to be said for the environmental impact of such a decision. I will fully admit that when we used disposables a few months ago, they were paper. We would never buy Styrofoam plates, but paper products still take a while to decompose, and they are made from a resources that takes decades to replace. I didn’t know what other option I had, though.
And then I found Conserve® brand, put out by an amazing company called Baumgarten‘s. Baumgarten‘s is a company that takes environmental stewardship very seriously. Their Conserve line has cleaning products, disposable dishware and cutlery, emergency flashlights, and Plastibands (environmentally friendly rubber bands). I had the opportunity to use several items from the disposable & compostable dishware and cutlery line during the week of Thanksgiving, when my household of 3 turned into a household of 7! I knew dishes were going to be a nightmare, so I went to my handy disposables. This time, however, I had products to use that were completely guilt free!
Conserve dishware and cutlery are made from sugar cane fiber and corn starch respectively. These are resources that can be reproduced on an annual basis, which makes them extremely renewable. Furthermore, the material is 100% biodegradable and also compostable! These products can be completely broken down in a compost pile in about 6 weeks, which is just amazing. Check out where these products fall on the Environmental Friendliness Meter!
When my extended family started using these products during their visit, we asked them to rip up their plates and cups after use so that we could put them in the compost bin. This inspired some really great conversations with them about why we compost, and even about why we recycle (because my extended family doesn’t do either of these things). By the end of the visit my father was asking if my husband would build a compost bin for him the next time we go to their home! I could also see the act of tearing up plates and cups to be a lot of fun for children, and a great way to initiate a conversation with them about protecting the earth.
You may be wondering how sugar cane and corn starch products held up once they were holding food. Just great! I didn’t see any difference in quality between the Conserve disposable products and the heftier paper disposable plates, cups and bowls on the market. From the Conserve website, “The Conserve® Brand Promise is that our products will perform better AND be will be significantly better for the environment than other products offered on the market. We believe that sustainability should not come at the cost of performance.” My one suggestion for them is to make a larger bowl option. We ate chili one night, and I wanted a BIG bowl of chili, but had to settle for making a few trips back to the kitchen for more!
Overall, I thought these products were simply amazing. I can’t tell you how fun it is to throw your “plastic” cutlery into the compost bin, knowing that it will be gone in 6 weeks! We don’t use disposable products all the time anymore, but we do still need them when we have visitors, or on those days when we are just too lazy to deal with dishes. It’s great to know that these moments do not need to come at the cost of the environment.
Conserve brand dishware products are available for purchase through the Baumgarten‘s site. The cutlery can be found for purchase here. The prices may seem a bit high, at first, but just think of the long term cost of continuing to use non-renewable resources, or resources that don’t renew quickly, on products that get used for half an hour, at best. If you work outside of your home, consider passing along this information to your purchasing department, and help your place of business go green, too!
Baumgarten‘s wants to help you take the step you need to go green in your home by offering two lucky Stuff Parents Need readers their Tableware Party Pack, including 50 compartment plates, 85 salad plates, 50 8oz cups, 100 forks and 100 spoons. That’s over an $80 value, each! Woo hoo for eco-friendly disposable dishware! The contest will run until December 30th at 7:59pm CST when a winner will be drawn via random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my winning notification email. Open to residents of the United States.
How to Enter:
Mandatory Entry: Go check out all the amazing products in the Conserve line, and come back here and tell me one product in their line you would like to see in your own home.
1. Subscribe to this blog via reader or email (2 entries)
2. Make a purchase at Baumgarten‘s(leave me the email address you used for the purchase) (5 entries)
3. List one way that you are going green at home or at work (1 entry)
4. Grab my button and leave a link to your site so I can find it (1 entry)
5. Follow me using Google friend connect (2 entries)
6. Subscribe to the Conserve brand blog (1 entry)
Disclosure: I was provided with samples for product review purposes. The views expressed in this post are strictly my own.
The next time I make this black bean dip I will double it because it doesn’t last long enough. This is a great dish for those nights when you want something really fast, because it comes together quickly. Hooray for quick and tasty food!
Recipe name: Baked Black Bean Dip
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup light sour cream (optional)
1 clove garlic, diced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup grated cheddar
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 small tomato, diced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beans, sour cream, garlic and cumin in a food processor (I’ve been through several over the years, and this one is by far my favorite). Process until mixed but still chunky.
Spread mixture in a pie plate (I used other bakeware, so it really doesn’t matter). Top with cheese, onions, olives and tomato.
Bake 15 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream, if desired.
My baby is really serious about her pacifier. She has always been a baby who has needed to suck in order to comfort herself, and I quickly lost interest in serving as her personal pacifier. As soon as we got the green light from our pediatrician to give her a binky (at 2 weeks) we did!
Darah is now 4 months old. She is learning how to grab things, which is absolutely precious. She seems to be especially fond of grabbing her pacifier, taking it out of her mouth, and dropping it somewhere. Usually, within minutes she is crying for it, but she doesn’t yet know how to locate it and pop it back in her mouth. Tim and I are CONSTANTLY roaming around the house looking for lost binkies. We decided that we either needed to purchase 10 pacifiers and place them all over the house, or we needed to get something that could help hold her pacifier in place (a cheaper and more logical choice, obviously).
I found some ridiculously cute pacifier clips at the Etsy store Freakie Toes (don’t you love that name?!). Varinia, the shop owner, kindly sent me a clip to try out on Darah and review for you. I received the clip pictured on the right (cute packaging, right?). There are many pacifier clips on the market, but here’s what I particularly love about the clips from Freakie Toes. First, the snap on attachment works with both popular styles of binkies. You can snap it around a pacifier that has a hook on it, or you can snap it around the base of a pacifier that doesn’t. Darah has rejected every pacifier out there except for MAM, and they don’t have the hooks on them. This made finding a pacifier clip very difficult. But the clips from Freakie Toes totally work!
The second thing I really like about these clips is that they are downright lovely. I’ve seen many pacifier clips that can get the job done, but they are so unfortunate looking that they can make the cutest outfit look a bit sad. This just won’t do for my little doll. The flower that serves as the attachment piece is absolutely precious! Notice that is has a little rhinestone in the middle, too! Darah’s pacifier clip is basically a little brooch, and it adds to the cuteness factor of whatever she wears.
Freakie Toes has several clips to choose from on their site, and if you want to customize the color of the ribbon, that can be done. This especially great for anyone who dresses their little ones in colors beyond the traditional pinks and whites. Varinia also has some really cute beaded clips for sale if you aren’t interested in having the flower on the clip, or if you just want something different and fun! Either clip sells for $9.00. Trust me when I say that if you don’t have a pacifier clip, you’ll spend way more than $9.00 replacing pacifiers as they get lost!
Freakie Toes has precious and practical gifts for any little one who loves a binky (and the parents will enjoy it, too!). These clips would be perfect stocking stuffers or would be appreciated at your next baby shower. For the week of the contest, Freakie Toes is offering a 10% discount (less shipping) to all of my readers. Simply convo Varinia with what you want to purchase and she can make a custom listing for you with the adjusted price (don’t forget to tell her that you are a Stuff Parents Need reader).
One very lucky parent is going to snag a pacifier clip for his/her little one! This contest will run until December 21st at 7:59pm CST. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments or have it listed in your profile. The winner will be selected via random.org and will have 48 hours to respond to the winning notification. Open to residents of the U.S.
How to Enter:
Mandatory entry: Head over to Freakie Toes and tell me if you would prefer a beaded pacifier clip or a flower rhinestone pacifer clip, and what colors you like best.
1. Subscribe to my blog via email or RSS. Leave a comment with your email address for the subscription (2 entries, so leave 2 comments)
2. Make a purchase at Freakie Toes (5 entries, so leave 5 comments). Be sure to leave the email address you used when making your purchase.
3. Grab my button and add it to your blog roll (leave a url so I can find it!)
4. Follow me on Google friend connect
5. Enter my mineral makeup giveaway (listed Monday, December 14th)
Disclosure: I was sent a pacifier clip for review purposes only. No other form of compensation was received for this review, and the opinions expressed are my own.
Mineral Foundation Review
I have been a fan of mineral foundation for about 2 years, now. I was very skeptical about how something that looked like powder could possibly offer the coverage of a liquid foundation, but a girlfriend of mine encouraged me to give it a try after she has success with it. I gave in and ordered some Bare Minerals (a place where many people start), and pretty much never looked back. The makeup, in my opinion, is of a very high quality. Unfortunately, the price tag is also high (I know that more expensive makeup definitely exists, but when you are used to paying drugstore prices, $25 for a month’s supply of foundation totally stinks).
I know that part of what you are paying for when you use Bare Minerals is the name brand. They spend a fortune on advertising, and pass those costs right along to the consumer. I tried some of the drugstore versions of mineral makeup, but did not have any success with that venture, as I personally found the quality to be seriously inferior. I knew that there had to be some company out there that offered excellent mineral makeup but for a more reasonable cost than what I was paying. Friends, I found such a place!
Let me introduce you to Tiara Minerals by Colorful Designs, an etsy store run by a fabulous woman named Gail. This company, which also has a website, offers a really large variety of options for anyone looking to try out mineral makeup, or anyone who is looking to spend less on their makeup but maintain the great look they are currently achieving with higher priced brands. Gail is a huge fan of mineral makeup, and her love of it as a consumer turned into a business. She only uses the highest quality minerals in her products. If you are on the fence about whether or not mineral makeup will work for you, listen to what Gail has to say: “Traditional liquid makeup have oils and waxes in it that can clog your pores and feel heavy on your skin. Mineral makeup is so feather light and pure you can sleep in it.” You heard right, folks. YOU CAN SLEEP IN IT. Any mother out there will rejoice at the sound of this news! This is one less thing for us to do at night on those especially crazy days! Woo hoo! Gail also offers sample baggies so that you can try out some shades before making a commitment.
I was sent a 10 piece sample bag to try out for myself (incidentally, you can snag this sample set for yourself at the sale price of $9.99 right now!). I blended the shades fair and fairest light together, as that is what I normally do with my Bare Minerals to get the right shade for my skin. I did a test by putting Bare Minerals on one half of my face, and Tiara Minerals on the other half. The coverage was equally good, and the colors matched up so well that I was able to wear the makeup out of the house as is (I did put some mineral veil over it just to smooth it out a bit). One thing that really makes me happy about Tiara Minerals is the way the foundation is sold. You can actually buy a few different shades at once so that you can custom blend the colors just for you! With any set that you purchase, be it foundation, eyeshadow or blush, colors can be swapped out in order to best meet your needs. I am especially impressed by this ability to customize your order. Whenever I order from Bare Minerals, for example, I always get a few things that I don’t personally want or need (such as the bronzer), simply because it comes with the set.
One other standout for me was the Clear Luminous All Over Color. Remember that pregnancy glow? This actually returned a bit of that glow to my face, and if I can achieve that look again without having to be pregnant, sign me up!
Overall, I was so pleased with the products I received from Tiara Minerals that I opted to wear the makeup for our Christmas photos. I like a soft, natural look that makes my skin feel healthy, and that’s exactly what I got with Tiara Minerals. I also love how fast the application process is with mineral makeup. Anything that can save me time AND look terrific is a winner with me. I’ll be placing an order in the future, for sure!
Tiara Minerals foundation sets start at $3.99 for a sample bag and $12.95 for a set. Most of the products are available with free shipping to save you even more money! If you are looking for a new makeup to try out, I really recommend that you start with Tiara Minerals! Edited to add: if you aren’t comfortable shopping on Etsy for some reason, Amazon does now offer a really nice selection of mineral foundations. Just be sure to read the reviews before making a purchase!
One lucky Stuff Parents Need reader will win a 10 piece baggie set (net wt 14 g) of their choice. Choose from Fair, Light or Tan! The contest will run until Sunday, December 20th at 7:59pm CST, when a winner will be chosen at random and emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be selected. You must include your email address in your comment or make sure it is listed in your profile! You must complete the mandatory entry in order for any subsequent entries to be counted. Open to residents of the United States.
How to Enter:
Mandatory entry: Go check out Tiara Minerals. Come back here and tell me the product she sells that you want the very most!
1. Subscribe to my blog via email or RSS. Leave a comment with your email address for the subscription (2 entries, so leave 2 comments)
2. Become a fan of Tiara Minerals on facebook (2 entries, so leave 2 comments)
3. Make a purchase at Tiara Minerals (5 entries, so leave 5 comments)
4. Add my button to your blog and leave me a url so I can find it! (2 entries, so leave 2 comments)
5. Follow me through Google friend connect
6. Enter my pacifier clip giveaway (it goes live Tuesday, December 15th)
Disclosure: I received product samples for review purposes. The views in this post are strictly my own.
This is one that might sound a little strange, but I promise it is yummy. Anytime we make these sweet potato burritos, we double the recipe and freeze half of them for a quick meal later! These are perfect for work lunches.
Recipe name: Sweet Potato Burritos
1/2 Tbsp veg oil
Handful of chopped onions
1 clove garlic minced
1 can re-fried beans
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp grounds cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp soy sauce
6-8 flour tortillas
40 oz can yams, mashed
Shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in the beans. Gradually stir in water and heat until warm. Remove the bean mixture from the heat. Stir in all spices and soy sauce.
Heat tortillas in microwave oven for 30 seconds to 1 minute to soften. Put bean mixture on tortillas and spread sweet potato over the beans mixture. Top with cheese. Roll up burrito style and place on a lightly greased backing sheet. Sprinkle top of burritos with cheese. Bake for 12 minutes.
The following has been on my blog “to do” list for a few months now: Get a blog button. It has stayed on my list because I don’t know how to make a blog button, and I was seriously dreading spending hours figuring out how to do it. Fortunately, I found Blog Buttons by Jane, and she can make buttons for your blog!
For $15 and zero pain on my part, I got a blog button! I got something on the simple side, but she can also purchase cute images for you if that’s what you want. I wanted to send some other bloggers her way as a thank you, so please do check her out when you can! And by all means, please do grab my button (to the right of this post) and add it to your blog roll. All future giveaways on my site will include an extra entry opportunity for folks with my button.
This is my very first meme, inspired by Girly Mama! It’s all about Christmas traditions. Please feel free to join in on the fun and post your own answers on your blog, and then post a link in the comments!
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I LOVE egg nog. Go ahead and judge me. I judge myself a little bit, because I can objectively realize that it is kind of gross. Oh well!
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? This is a point of contention between my husband and me. In my family, Santa gifts are unwrapped. In his family, Santa wraps presents, but they are in a special semi-see through type of wrapping paper. I have no idea how we are going to do this next year (this year we’ll be at my in-laws, so Santa gifts will be wrapped).
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White on a house and colored on a tree. I’m partial to a tree that is a little bit tacky!
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope!
5. When do you put your decorations up? Um…when we get around to it? 🙂 I try to get home decor out soon after Thanksgiving, but the tree usually goes up the following weekend.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? I am especially fond of fudge. I also really like those Reese’s peanut butter cups in the shape of a Christmas tree!
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? I remember several Christmas mornings as a child, when my older brother and I would go get my parents (it was the rule that we had to go get them before we went into the living room to see what Santa had brought). In hindsight, I realize my parents had probably only gotten a few hours of sleep (because we woke up at an ungodly hour on Christmas morning), but they never fussed and Christmas morning was always SO AWESOME because of them!
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Ok, nerd alert! I had my suspicions once I found a few gifts in my mom’s closet labeled as being from Santa, so I went straight to the authority on all matters…the encyclopedia! I remember reading that he was a “fictitious” character and I was all, “Ah ha!” I think I was 6 or 7.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We open one gift on Christmas Eve, and that is pajamas.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? My husband and I both have a good number of ornaments from our childhood days, and we also have accumulated quite a few in our 7 years of marriage!
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I love it, but that is because I live in a place where it snows between 1 and 3 times each year, and it is always a tiny amount.
12. Do you remember your favorite gift? My favorite gift ever? Well, my husband proposed to me on Christmas morning, and while he didn’t yet have a ring to give me, that would still be my favorite gift of all time.
13. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Special memory- making time with my family.
14. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Christmas Eve drive about town to look at Christmas lights.
15. What tops your tree? We have a star.
16. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Everyone who knows me knows that gifts are my love language. I really do love to get gifts, and that doesn’t mean that it has to be a material object. As trite as it sounds, I swear that it is the thought that counts. I guarantee that I will always appreciate a handmade card that cost nothing over a $100 gift that had no thought put into it. As I have gotten older and more mature, I have also started to get a lot of joy out of gift giving. I try to put thought into all the gifts I give!
17. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? Sort of yuck.
18. Favorite Christmas Show? I really like The Grinch!
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? I love so many of them, but O Holy Night is my favorite. My second favorite is What Child is This?